It is clear that the Government has no intention of protecting frontline services at Mullingar Regional Hospital despite an increase in patient numbers and more demand, local Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy has said. Deputy Troy was speaking after a Private Members Motion in the Dáil on the health service.
Deputy Troy said: “Deputy James Bannon is on record as saying the Minister for Health James Reilly gave a firm commitment during a visit to the Midland Regional Hospital that is was ‘safe from downgrading or a further diminution of services.’ I raised this issue with the Minister during a private members motion on health and again in Parliamentary Question and this is blatantly not the case.
“While funding has been made available for Orthopaedic procedures in Tullamore severe cuts are being applied in Mullingar where the budget has been cut by €3.6m. How can less money and more patients requiring treatment not affect the delivery of frontline services. What happened to the Minister’s policy of ‘the money following the patient’?
Speaking during the debate Deputy Troy said: “Last year, yet again, it [Mullingar Regional Hospital] was the most efficient hospital outside Dublin. Now it is taking in additional patients from Roscommon hospital, which was downgraded in spite of the Minister’s pledges, and from Navan. Even though the hospital has taken in these additional patients, it has not received any additional funding. Last year it took €60 million to run the hospital but this year’s budget will be €56.4 million, to include an overrun of €1.9 million. What happened to the notion of funding following the patient?”
“Everybody knows the best and cheapest way to run a health service is to have an effective and efficient acute hospital system that will treat patients in an effective and efficient manner, get them home and arrange home care packages to help them. None the less, we have seen plans for a 4.5% reduction in the provision of home help. This is a very retrograde step. I know from having looked after an elderly neighbour in recent years that home help managed to keep this lady out of long-term residential care for 18 months. Without that home help she would not have been able to stay out of care.”
Deputy Troy said: “The simple fact of the matter is that the Minister for Health is pledging one thing on the ground in the constituency for the benefit of the local Fine Gael TD and saying another thing back in the Dáil which gets considerably less and attention. The result being that people are given the impression their local services are getting more funding and are being protected when this is blatantly not the case.”